Mont Blanc is the highest summit of Western Europe, on the border between France and Italy. The mountain can be approached from Chamonix in France and from Courmayeur in Italy: see those pages for amenities and activities around the Mont Blanc massif. This page is specifically about the ascent to the summit.
Traditional mountaineering was a practical business of hunting and farming, and of leading travellers over the passes by the safest route. In 1760 the scientist Horace Bénédict de Saussure put up a prize for the first ascent to the summit of Mont Blanc. In those days the mountain lay in Savoy, an independent country that also included Nice, Aosta, Piedmont and Sardinia. Not until 1860 was the territory definitively incorporated into France and Italy, with Mont Blanc marking the border.
Mountaineering evolved from exploration and enquiry into a sport, and mountains were climbed in an Olympic or Corinthian spirit of "because it's there". Meanwhile leisure travel and organised winter sports grew, and railways and cable-cars were built. Mont Blanc had become a tourist resort.